Sorry, those Facebook privacy notices you're posting on your wall are useless

Can you tell the cops to keep their mitts off your Facebook page? Is Facebook really asking you to vote on its new privacy policy? Read on for the answers.


In today’s episode of Social Media Mythbusters, we tackle the issue of Facebook and privacy. So let’s get busting. Stop me if you've heard either of these myths recently:

1. You can post a notice on your Facebook page to tell government agents and/or the police to sod off, and they have to obey it.

2. Facebook is asking its users to vote for or against its new privacy policy.

To quote the late Richard Dawson: "Survey says...." Nope. Sorry, neither is true. 

First, the “Facebook Privacy Notice” making the rounds today is bogus. It reads in part:

PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning - any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to my photos, and/or the comments made about my photos or any other "picture" art posted on my profile.

Right. And if you post the same notice on your front door, the cops can’t bust in and have you arrested, no matter what you might be up to. In both scenarios, a properly executed court order is all it would take to put you in cuffs or have a G-man poring over your Likes.

The bogus notice goes on to suggest now that Facebook is a publicly traded company, its privacy rules have changed. This is also not true. The IPO does nothing to change any of Facebook’s terms, though it does put Facebook under significantly greater public pressure to generate profits (which means it could ultimately affect Facebook’s terms).

What is true is that this bogus notice is circulating at the same time Facebook is holding an open vote about changes to its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) and to its Data Use Policy (DUP). That is what used to be called Facebook’s privacy policy; they changed the name in September 2011 to better reflect how Facebook treats all of our data. (Privacy? Feh.)

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